Ikkyu is one of the most important Zen masters of Japan. There are many stories about him which can open new doors for you to contemplate and meditate. This is the first story about his childhood, when he was not a master yet but used to serve another master.
He was doing small little things for him. But a man who is going to become enlightened has from the very beginning a clarity, a sharpness and an intelligence that people with great effort cannot even attain in their old age.
This story is beautiful. Ikkyu was very clever as a boy. The man who is going to become enlightened is bringing with him from his past life almost ninety-nine percent of his enlightenment. Just a small part was left and death came over him. Such people die consciously. And because they die consciously they know that death is a reality only from the outside; as far as the inner experience is concerned, it is just a changing of the house. Life continues.
Even in the mother’s womb the man who is going to become enlightened shows indications of intelligence. This seems unbelievable, but the Buddhists, the Jainas – two great authentic paths which have produced more enlightened people in the world than any other religion – both have this idea that when a child is in the mother’s womb he gives indications that he is not an ordinary unconscious child.
Scriptures describe exactly how he gives indications: He gives certain dreams to the mother. He is one with the mother’s body; he can project certain dreams.
And for thousands of years the East has been looking into the phenomenon of enlightenment. For example, the white elephant is a very rare quality. Perhaps not one of you has seen a white elephant – except in language. When you want to condemn something you say, “It is a white elephant, I don’t want it. It is unnecessarily expensive.” The child in the mother’s womb, who is going to become enlightened in this life, gives her again and again the dream of a white elephant.
Upon that, the Buddhists agree, the Jainas agree – because they both have worked hard to find what kind of indications the conscious death of a person will bring to the mother into whose womb he has entered.
There are many other dreams upon which they have agreed – because they have been repeated so many times, and it has been only when the person was going to become enlightened. So it is not only cleverness, it is consciousness. I will not say it is just cleverness. Cleverness is ordinary; it is available to anybody. There are thousands of boys and girls who are clever.
Whoever has written the story has no idea of enlightenment; otherwise this word would not have been used. It shows consciousness, it shows awareness.
“His teacher had a precious teacup.” Remember again, it is not said in the story that his master had a precious teacup – because the esoteric traditions of all mystery schools make a distinction between the teacher and the master. The teacher simply teaches you philosophies, theologies – he transfers to you the knowledge that is contained in the scriptures – but he himself is not enlightened. He is a knowledgeable person, a learned person. But it is not his own experience.